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Tutorial – about scopes and mounts, use of

Tutorial – about scopes and mounts, use of

This is a long rant I just have to get off my chest as the subject repeatedly appears in the forums, especially from people new to the forums, asking questions about putting a scope on their newly acquired rifle or butchering their collectible with a really Bubba scope job.

THE MOST COMMON PROBLEM I frequently observe on the range are the people totally frustrated by their rifle, which they immediately ran out and tacked a cheap optic on, who can’t shoot for crap with it at ranges of 50 and 100 yards!
The vast majority of these people have never mastered their rifle and ammunition and can not break the 100 yard wall despite their continued best efforts. Many are happy just to hit paper at 100 yards! They succumbed to the fallacy that scopes are somehow magical and no rifle is complete without one!

First, I am a Firearms Instructor and long time experienced shooter.
I teach Basic Rifle, Advanced Rifle, Scoped Rifle as well as several specialized courses.
Second, I am a regular shooter.
I visit the range on an almost weekly basis and burn a considerable amount of ammo, with various rifles, on a regular basis.
Third, I am a collector of milsurps.
While I do have prized wall hangers and closet “collectibles”, I try to follow the goal of buy what you shoot and shoot what you buy. Everything I acquire gets at least a fair trial on the range and I can say I have fired it at some point in time.
Fourth, I am an advanced “tinkerer”.
Somewhat mechanically inclined, while I am not a qualified gunsmith, I have learned to tune and improve many elements of the guns and resolve problems to improve their performance. The process of “tinkering” has improved my knowledge and skills as well as my shooting proficiency.
Fifth, I can shoot!
I have mastered my rifles and ammo, perfected technique and am more than willing to put my money where my mouth is in a head to head match against all comers. Always a “natural”, teaching has made me better by curing my flaws and bad habits.

I have no bias against scopes!
Some of my favorite entertainment on the range comes from my scoped rifles and the ability to hit small targets at long distances as well as the process of perfecting a scoped rifle project to create a true tack driver.

I do have an extreme bias against the people who waste time, money and ammunition under the false assumption that a cheap piece of glass is going to cure their problems!
Not their fault, it just seems a common misconception that glass will cure all!

A scope will NOT cure poor technique!
A scope will NOT make you a better or instant precision shooter!
A scope will NOT fix basic mechanical problems with your rifle like a dirty or worn bore, beat up crown and lap, sloppy stock and fit in need of bedding or harsh and grating trigger pull!
A scope DOES NOTHING to improve your shooting!
A scope only MAGNIFIES your target to enable you to see it at distances you would not be able to accomplish with the naked eye!
A scope WILL induce many additional mechanical complications that can only serve to frustrate and DECREASE your performance!

WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE for adding a scope?

Many people are under the assumption that adding a scope will somehow magically and instantly make them able to shoot good groups or hit small targets.
Before mastering their rifle with iron sights and learning the true potential of it, the first thing they do is run out and tack on a cheap scope and mount falsely assuming this will suddenly yield great accuracy.
Failing to first master the rifle, the ammunition, and basics of windage and elevation and iron sight shooting, they fight with additional complications of a scope and mounting. After burning much ammunition, they get so frustrated with the gun that they end up selling it for a fraction of what they have invested in it, having never broken the 100 yard barrier or shooting a satisfactory group.


The most common excuse for tacking on a scope is “I can’t see that far!”
Yes, there are valid and complicated vision problems that hinder one’s ability to see and hit the target.
First off, if you are willing to invest the time and money in a scope and mount, why have you not consulted with a qualified Optometrist or Ophthalmologist about improving your vision?
Many vision problems can be fixed!

I spent the majority of my life nearsighted to the point where I couldn’t find my way to the bathroom without contacts or glasses, legally blind without vision correction! It was always a chore to obtain the correct prescription for “acceptable” vision and borderline on “They don’t make them any stronger!”
I have to say cataracts were probably one of the most fortunate and life changing events in my entire life!
I developed cataracts in both eyes at an early age from who knows what causes.
Faced with blindness and no longer correctable vision, I had no choice other than surgical implants.
It didn’t work out perfectly. I ended up a little under in one eye and a little over in the other.
It did, however, alter my life with the best vision, without needing glasses or contacts, I have had my entire life! I can easily spot a golf ball or soda can at 250 yards and count the needles on a pine tree at 100! When I say I can see and hit a clay pigeon at 250 yards with iron sights, it’s because I can!

With the current state of vision correction available, from Lasik to implants and other advanced procedures, there is no valid excuse of “I can’t see that far!”
Consult a qualified practitioner and have them detail your options for vision correction, specifically tailored to your shooting sport.
Not only is it going to improve your shooting, it may considerably improve your quality of life!
Do NOT rely on a cheap scope to fix vision problems that can easily be corrected!


Proper Shooting Technique, with correct sight alignment, position, trigger control are a MUST!
There are many people who THINK they can shoot and refuse to admit they can benefit from some proper training.
Even if you are a long time “experienced” shooter, it never hurts to STEP BACK TO BASICS and take a BEGINNER Rifle Course, working your way through as a novice!
Teaching Basic Rifle to others enabled me to find and correct many bad habits and mistakes I had been making for years and improved my shooting considerably.
You MUST master the BASICS before moving on to the advanced!
Take the course, under the guidance of an experienced Instructor, and I assure you of much improvement!

Is it the rifle or is it YOU?
Until you have mastered the BASICS, how can you tell?
Until you have mastered the BASICS, to the point where you can pick up any rifle and shoot very well with it, don’t go blaming the rifle, the scope, the sights, the ammo or anything else!
We FREQUENTLY encounter people on the range having a total hissy fit and bad mouthing their rifle to no end. Son and I try it and have no difficulty busting clay pigeons with it at 250 yards with iron sights … ain’t the rifle! Most of them have never shot beyond 100 yards and had no idea of the true capabilities of their gun or properly learned how to shoot it!


Once again, until you MASTER your rifle and the ammo you shoot out of it, how can you tell where the problem lies?
It is absolutely essential for you to MASTER each particular rifle, and the ammo you shoot out of it, before you ever consider adding a scope to it!
Until you MASTER the rifle and ammo with iron sights, and can achieve satisfactory groups with it at various distances, there is no way you can successfully determine or assess and correct the additional complications induced by a scope as you have no way to compare the results against a known good result and what to expect out of the gun.
If I can group 3” or bust clay pigeons at 200-250 yards with iron sights, I can say there is nothing wrong with the gun. If I can’t, it means further tuning steps must be taken to cure the inherent accuracy problem with the gun.
ONLY … after establishing the inherent accuracy of the gun, does consideration of optics enter into the picture.


A large percentage of our Advanced Rifle Theory Course is devoted to understanding WINDAGE and ELEVATION, a subject the vast majority of shooters never grasp or even know about! We frequently encounter many shooters on the range who have absolutely no understanding of what the elevation slider is there for!

There is much to understand about ballistics …
Understanding the basics of bullet trajectory and how it is affected by muzzle velocity, bullet weight, wind forces, air density, temperature and humidity on the surface appears very complicated. While the science of this is complicated and complex, it can be taught and can be learned! In fact, for any kind of success, it must be learned!
For now, just accept the fact that bullets DO NOT travel in a straight line!
Many people labor under the misconception that bullet trajectory is like a laser beam straight from the bore to the target. Some never even heard of bullet drop.

Without some basic understanding of this, you just won’t get very far with a scope!
Failing to understand this will leave you with crosshairs that NEVER seem to be zeroed on target and a perpetually changing point of impact! Each trip to the range will be a frustrating experience!
Until you have the ability to go on the line and calculate and adjust for prevailing conditions, with iron sights, you will have no better success with a scope!
Know, that on any given day, you will have to make corrections for prevailing conditions and understand how to do that!

Given proper education, combined with experience, you will MASTER the rifle and ammunition to the point where, on any given day and under any given conditions, you will be able to walk up to the firing line and quickly know that you need to add 6” elevation and 4” right drift…
You WILL understand that Yugo 182gr bullets will drop 6” at 200yds compared to Polish 149gr ammo and the Yugo 8mm shoots at 2780fps vs the Czech 8mm at 2330 resulting in a totally different trajectory!

Until you have an understanding of all this … and have it translated into proper differential settings on your scope adjustment turrets … you shouldn’t be trying to fiddle with a scope or you are just wasting your time and ammo!
I find many people, thinking they had their scoped perfectly zeroed on the last range trip, who are totally dumbfounded because today it is a foot high and a foot left! They have no concept of how changing weather conditions will alter bullet performance and why their scope never seems to be zeroed. Particularly painful is the “weekend warrior” trying to zero his scope for the big huntin’ trip on a windy afternoon.

If you really want to see the science involved in advanced scope use …
Look at the DTAC system and download the manual.


A cheap scope is just that … a cheap scope!
Run right out to Walmart and buy a $35 Bushnell or an NCstar and expect to start hitting quarters at 300 yards … NOT!
Expect to get what you paid for!

Cheap scopes DO NOT reliably hold zero!
On adjustable scopes, the click adjustments may not be accurate or stay put.
Glass in the optics may BREAK or SPALL after only a hundred rounds.
Reticles break and fall apart! “Where did my crosshairs go?”

While these may be adequate for a .22 plinker, mount one on a .30 cal class center fire rifle like a Mosin in hard pounding 7.62.X54R and it may last a day or two…

Purchase a scope rated and known reliable for the caliber rifle you will mount it on!
While there are some “lesser” brands that do offer reasonable quality for the price compared to certain “name” brands, you can still expect to pay as much or more for the scope as you paid for the rifle. Not also that some of the “name” brands are actually made by the same Chinese companies that make the “cheap” scopes and they may be identical.

Some of the cheaper scopes are a good value, depending on your demands and needs, but you may have to sacrifice a degree of optical clarity. They may not be quite as bright or sharp at high magnifications.

Bottom line …
The scope, no matter what the brand or price, is useless unless it holds perfect zero, every time, cold out of the case, through several hundred full power rounds with no change in point of impact!
Anything less, you are wasting a lot of money on ammo and will very quickly grow frustrated with it.

This is not to say some “lesser” or cheaper scopes are all bad… relative to the price tag.
Barska tactical scopes could be considered “dirt cheap” compared to a Leupold. You can find a MSRP $360 Barska on or Optics Planet for $200.
I have two of them. They hold a perfect zero. Adjustments are in fine increments and stay where set. They have successfully held up through hundreds of rounds. They have proven totally reliable with no problems or complaints.
Direct comparison with a $1500 Leupold?
At 10x, there is absolutely no difference in overall clarity! The Leupold is just a wee tad brighter.
At 40x, there isn’t a Leupold 10-40x and at 40x I can put the cross hairs on the center of a golf ball! The dimples may be a little fuzzy and a little dark but, I can see and hit it dead center, something I can’t do with the Leupold!

A $25 Bushnell from Walmart? Why are you wasting your money?
That “Scout mount” looks really cool even though you can’t hit anything with it?


A 4x scope is roughly the same field of vision you get with the naked eye.
A 10x scope is more magnified but, I can see and hit a clay pigeon at 250 yards with iron sights and a 10x scope offers absolutely no advantage! Sighting in an M1A nm for both iron sights and a $1500 Leupold the other day, we shot with both, and, the difference was? Absolutely nothing!
Son actually prefers the iron sights as scopes annoy him.
Only up into the 32-40x range can I see and hit things with a scope I could not hit with iron sights. Granted, I am a sick puppy and I want to see the date on a quarter at 250 yards and the hole through the middle, but that is the purpose and objective of a scope for me!
If you want to see the holes in the target, buy a spotting scope! You would be surprised by the number of people who say they put a scope on the rifle to see the holes in their targets!

A low magnification scope offers no advantage over iron sights, obstructs your total field of vision and makes it more difficult to find and keep your target in the field of view.
This is a common failure of many “hunters” who lose the target while trying to locate it in the scope when they could have gotten off ten shots with iron sights and never lost track of it!
The broad side of a deer is pretty large at 200 yards and if you can’t hit accurately with iron sights, what is a scope going to do to improve that?
I am bedding a “hunting rifle” for a work partner, intent on hunting elk, and recently had the discussion.
“What range are you shooting at?”
“100-200 yards.”
“And, exactly what is the purpose of this $35 Bushnell 6x scope?”
“Because I took the iron sights off the rifle.”
Bangs head against table…

If want to shoot small targets at longer distances than capable with the naked eye and iron sights, find a scope in the magnification range that suits the purpose!


A scope is only as good as what attaches it to the rifle!
Cheap rings are cheap rings!
Cheap mounts are cheap mounts!

So… you spent enough money to get a reasonable quality scope and then attach it to the rifle with cheap $10 rings…

Cheap aluminum rings WILL bend and warp.
Steel screws in aluminum rings will NEVER stay tight and likely strip out the threads at some point.
A cheap base will never stay true or tight or correctly aligned to the receiver.
No amount of Locktite will forever securely attach cheap screws and keep them from working loose.

Large caliber center fire rifle rounds with heavy recoil WILL loosen whatever can come loose!
As little as 0.010” play will change your point of impact 12” at 200 yards!
That translates to the amount of play caused by a couple slightly loose screws!
If it rocks 1/10 of a degree in any direction, it will never hold zero.

Be that in the rings or the base, everything must remain as rock solid as if it were welded in place! I did just that on one rifle to cure unsatisfactory rings … welded them onto the base!

Be prepared to spend the extra bucks on the best quality rings and base mounting system you can find! It must be absolutely 100% battleship gun turret solid and anchored in place or it will never hold zero! Positively and absolutely no play and no movement even after shooting it all day is the goal.

The current “project rifle” and scope demanded a mount that there was no commercial product available for. I had a machinist hand craft one out of a solid block of steel, to attach the scope with three [email protected] steel high quality rings and built to my design specs. He boned me on the job more than the rifle and scope are worth but, guess what? The combination is rock solid enough that after pounding two hundred or more rounds through it, it has not changed point of impact at all, maintains absolute perfect zero, and not one screw has lost an inch pound of torque! Even though still smarting from the price tag, I am quite satisfied with the end results.
Want to play? Expect to pay!


• Advanced Scope Mounting article
• American Rifleman Dec. 2008
• By John Barsness

You want to get that issue and read a very good article on scope mounting.
Proper mounting includes correct torque settings for all the screws that comprise the mounting.
As highlighted in the article, over tightening of screws can lead to serious problems!
Rings can be over tightened to the point where they bend, distort or crush the scope tube.
Not only can you break the optics, excessive tightening can prevent the adjustment mechanism from working.

Unequal torque can place more pressure in one direction or the other distorting base and rings.
All similar screws, as in the ring screws, need to be set to the same exact torque using an inch pound torque screwdriver and are cranked down to torque in equal increments until all are tight and set.

Properly torqued screws will stay put and not loosen as force is distributed equally.
All screws must be periodically re-checked for proper torque, especially after prolonged periods of heavy shooting. One loose screw can ruin your day!

Beware the thumb screw!
Thumb screws are usually small screws with fine threads with a large knurled head intended to be tightened by hand. It is extremely easy to apply too much pressure and seriously over tighten them, to the point of stripping out threads, breaking off the screw, or applying unequal torque.
I recently repaired and sighted an M1A NM with the Springfield scope mount. It had been installed by a gunsmith. This mount utilizes two large thumb screws. The mount had been most firmly screwed down, with the tabs not correctly aligned in the receiver slots, crushing and damaging them to the point where they no longer fit. It required a bit of work to file off the squashed portions and get it to fit right again. Once properly aligned and the screws set at 30 inch pounds, the scope sighted in well and held zero without anything working loose.


There is a huge variety of mounting systems for scopes. Many attach to the receiver in different locations. Depending on the base and how it is attached, it is very possible that the rings will not align perfectly. Having the rings out of perfect alignment and then clamping them down on a scope can warp, bend and distort the scope. In some mountings, it may also warp or distort the receiver causing a variety of feeding problems.
You must check ring alignment, with a ring alignment tool or appropriate size length of pipe before firmly clamping them down on a scope tube.


No matter how good the mounting, the simple truth is …
You mount it, zero it and then take the scope off.
When you put it back on, it will not be zeroed!
It may be in the neighborhood but likely not in the exact same spot and alignment as when you took it off and it will require obtaining zero again before you use it.
Removable scope mounts are inherently designed with much margin for slack and slop, often difficult to keep tight, and prone to wandering zero.


I see many bench shooters routinely CANTING their scoped rifles.
Canting is simply leaning the rifle off horizontal to one side or the other.
The cross hairs are no longer true horizontal and true vertical.
The problem, if your elevation is slightly off, is now you are rotating the error around an axis.
Place a dot on paper and use a compass to draw a circle around it.
Next, draw a perfect cross through the circle.
Pick a point just above the center, draw another cross with that as the center point and rotate it left or right.
See where it intersects the circle.
Thus, you are 3” high and cant the rifle 10 degrees right. Your impact is 2” high and 1” right.
You mistaken correct for the right drift that was caused by the canting turning an elevation adjustment into a windage miscalculation!
You adjust your scope but on the next shot, you cant left and your impact is 1” low and 2” left.
Get stuck in the mistake of this vicious cycle and you will never get elevation or windage dead center and go nuts trying to do it!

Buy an Anti-Cant Device, basically a small spirit bubble level attached to your scope tube or built into the ring base.
Level your scope so that the cross hairs are perfectly level with iron sights and receiver.
Level your anti-cant device so it is perfectly level with the crosshairs.

Whenever making any scope adjustments, use your anti-cant level to be sure the scope is perfectly level and try to maintain perfect cant free level while shooting.
This is best accomplished with a quality BIPOD and adjusting the legs to keep the horizontal crosshair line perfectly level while shooting.
Only then, knowing your left right adjustment is off, can you accurately correct it knowing that it is not due to canting.


Your cheek must “spotweld” to the exact same spot on the stock, the same way, every shot!
That correct position should be at the exact spot for correct eye relief from the scope that yields correct focus and full field of vision in the element of the scope.
Many people are prone to “goose necking” or moving their head back and forth to get correct eye relief or “bobbing and craning” tilting their head side to side to attain correct eye relief, usually canting the rifle in the process.
Once you learn your “spotweld”, you will mount in the same position all the time without moving the rifle or canting.
A correct spotweld should position your head with both of your eyes close to level and parallel with the horizontal crosshair. If your head position is excessively canted relative to the rifle, you may have to alter the stock or add a cheek pad. For a Monte Carlo style stock, it may be necessary to lower and thin the comb.

Remember that the focus ring on the rear element is intended to bring the crosshairs into clear focus at correct eye relief. Don’t make the mistake of improperly adjusting the focus and then moving forward to get it clear or you may end up with a nasty black eye or scope imprint cut on your forehead! These are often rather ugly with a large caliber center fire rifle!


If you get a higher quality scope with mildots, you can learn to use them to quickly adjust for changing conditions without making any adjustments to the scope.
Many people fall into the bad habit of constantly trying to adjust their scope, never knowing exactly where true zero is for that rifle, that ammo, at that range under optimal conditions.

First, on a calm and windless day with low humidity and temp 60-80, get the scope perfectly zeroed for each range you will be shooting and mark a reference mark on the turret with a color for that range using different color marker pens. Having a reference mark, with a different color, for each range you shoot at makes it easy and quick to dial in the correct settings.

Always return your scope to your “dead zero” reference marks before quitting the range so the next time you take it out, you know it is correctly set. Failing to do so and not having a reference mark, the next time out you may forgot that you made an adjustment and the scope will be off zero.

Rather than changing your settings to compensate for variable or gusting winds, learn to use your mildots for hold over, hold under and left/right corrections. Knowing where “dead zero” is, you can learn to compensate minor adjustments by using your mildots without altering your scope settings. This is often preferable with variable wind gusts where drift is constantly changing.
Wasting time and ammo fiddling with turret adjustments can drive you nuts when conditions are constantly changing.


Because of the small but slightly different angle between angle of view of the scope and the axis of the bore, those two lines have to converge correctly at the target. Even thought he mounting is parallel in relation to the angle of the scope vs the axis of the bore, sometimes it is necessary to add shims to the mounts in order to get the two to converge where you want them and within the adjustment range of the scope. You must first determine your maximum and minimum shooting ranges and then determine the middle range between the two. The scope is then mounted and shimmed with the elevation adjustment in the middle of adjustable travel so that it zeros relatively close to the middle range. Failure to do that results in a scope that may run out of elevation adjustment, up or down, at either end of the scale.
Commercial brass shims can be purchased. Thin aluminum shims can be cut from a soda can.
It may be necessary to add several strips to one or more rings to obtain the correct mid-range zero point.

It may, in some cases and with aluminum rings, to insert a pipe through the rings and “bend” them somewhat to achieve this alignment but it is preferable to instead use shims and not risk damage to the rings or mount.

Do not, as Bubba was once observed doing, make this adjustment by whacking the scope with a rubber mallet! (I kid you not!)


Oh! These horrendous things are all over the place!
We already discussed matching the magnification of the scope to your purpose.
So… you want to put a 2x or 4x optic on that does nothing to enhance your vision over iron sights?
We discussed a solid and secure mounting system.
So… you want to attach this thing with a single pin holding it on the rear sight base so it can flop around?
Well… it may look cool to dress up and SKS or something …
The rifle came with perfectly good, calibrated, and secure iron sights so what good reason do you have to replace them with something that does nothing to enhance your vision, rattles around, and won’t hold zero?


You invested considerable money on a quality scope and mounting.
This is a precision optical instrument that deserves protection and care.
Be sure to buy a suitable padded hard case that fits the rifle with the scope.
Buy a case large enough so that you don’t have to remove the scope.
Pay attention when handling it so as not to bang it against anything.
It is not in the least surprising to observe what people do with their scoped rifles on the range.
I have seen them thrown down on the bench and otherwise harshly abused.
Then there is Bubba, with his “deer rifle” hanging in the rack in the pickup…

BORE CONDITIONING and rifle tune up

Now that you have reached the obvious conclusion that you will spend more to get a decent scope and mount than it will cost for the rifle … is the rifle worth it?
That should have been a primary consideration before buying a scope and mount.

There is simply no point in scoping a rifle that isn’t a superb shooter to begin with!
Why waste your time and money?
ONLY AFTER mastering your rifle and ammo with iron sights and determining true potential do you experiment with a scope or build a purpose built rifle with a scope.

Now that you have a scope and rifle combination where you can see and hit small targets, at long distances, it holds perfect zero and nothing comes loose, you are about to be confounded with the problems of shooting sub MOA groups with your scope.
There are improvements to be made.

Crown and lap … absolutely critical for tight groups. Lapping and crown repair have been previously discussed in the forums.

Extreme Cleaning … don’t expect a dirty bore to shoot quarters at 300 yards.
Extreme Cleaning and MolyFusion bore treatment have been previously discussed in the forums.

Tubb’s Final Finish Bore Conditioning Bullets … compound coated bullets that polish the throat and bore. I left the verdict open on them until I was sure they worked. Now, I conclude the process and the bullets do what they say they will and I intend to do several other rifles with them.


Bubba and his kin are out there … and in considerable numbers!
It is not unreasonable that “collectors” get a bit agitated seeing what Bubba and company have done to a fine milsurp collectible. You trip across Bubba on the range all too often.
With the abundance of inexpensive milsurps, it is not unexpected that Bubba will get his hands on them. There are even quite a few legitimate gunsmiths out there more than willing to accept money from the unknowing customer intent on converting his newly acquired milsurp into a fine quality Bubba. I seriously had to ask a couple people “You paid how much for this?”

There is, however, some difference in purpose building a custom scoped rifle based on a good and reliable milsurp specifically intended as the foundation for the project.
That is only with the understanding and knowledge beforehand that it will involve considerable time, work, and investment to achieve the ultimate goal. The investment will be considerable and with much attention to detail. The project may take months or even a year to get to the end result.
There is much more involved than drilling and tapping a few holes and screwing on a scope!

After all this work and money, I was giggling with delight the other day while marching golf balls around hit after hit after hit at 250 yards and punching holes through them with milsurp 7.62x54R.
Yeah! Scopes can be loads of fun!

If you want to talk about putting a $25 scope on a scout mount on your M44?
Don’t waste my time … or yours!

24 Posts
I just read your article on scopes. You make a lot of sense but the reason to use a scope, especially for target practice, is that the naked eye of a normal person cannot resolve an object 1 inch in diameter at 100 yards. People with 20/20 vision can only resolve an object that is about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter at that distance, which is equal to 1 minute of arc. If you have 20/10 vision, which is the best vision achievable by a human, you could theoretically see a half minute of arc at 100 yards. That's still bigger than any bullet hole. So, humans cannot see bullet holes in targets at 100 yards. So, you could not possibly correct your aim just using iron sights. You need a scope to see where you hit. A golf ball is what, 1.6 inches in diameter? You could not possibly see it at 250 yards. You could just barely see it at 100 yards. You can't see individual leaves on a pine tree at 100 yards either. It's not humanly possible. At 250 yards, you could probably make out a baseball or softball, but it would barely be noticable and conditions (heat, light, wind, air quality) would have to be perfect.
What this means when correcting your aim at 100 yards, is that you could only correct your aim in 1.5 inch increments because you cannot distinguish distances less than that. It is not possible for a human to shoot a bullet through a target at 100 yards, correct his aim and put a bullet 1/2 inch to the right of it using iron sights only. If the bullet actually lands 1/2 inch to the right of your first shot, it isn't because of your aim. You can't consciously make that small of a correction because you can't see that small of a distance from 100 yards away. At those distances, even a cheap low power scope will allow you to see the bullet holes in a target. That's why people use scopes. They actually let you see what you could not see without it, even at 100 feet.

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Bubba and his kin are out there … and in considerable numbers!
It is not unreasonable that “collectors” get a bit agitated seeing what Bubba and company have done to a fine milsurp collectible. You trip across Bubba on the range all too often.
With the abundance of inexpensive milsurps, it is not unexpected that Bubba will get his hands on them. There are even quite a few legitimate gunsmiths out there more than willing to accept money from the unknowing customer intent on converting his newly acquired milsurp into a fine quality Bubba. I seriously had to ask a couple people “You paid how much for this?”

There is, however, some difference in purpose building a custom scoped rifle based on a good and reliable milsurp specifically intended as the foundation for the project.

That is only with the understanding and knowledge beforehand that it will involve considerable time, work, and investment to achieve the ultimate goal. The investment will be considerable and with much attention to detail. The project may take months or even a year to get to the end result.
There is much more involved than drilling and tapping a few holes and screwing on a scope!

After all this work and money, I was giggling with delight the other day while marching golf balls around hit after hit after hit at 250 yards and punching holes through them with milsurp 7.62x54R.
Yeah! Scopes can be loads of fun!

If you want to talk about putting a $25 scope on a scout mount on your M44?
Don’t waste my time … or yours!
Okay, you have a point. However, I gunsmith and I use milsurp actions. I and a few of my friends will not chop up a collectible action for a customer, and we routinely pay the price for this scruple. No good deed goes unpunished. There are gun butchers out there who will chop and channel anything the customer brings them.

I routinely take bad-bore Number 4 Enfields and make scout rifles out of them in .30-40 Krag. The old Krag feeds beautifully through the .303 feed system, the larger rim takes the slop out of the breechface, and the Krag chamber does not suffer from the generous chamber dimensions the British adopted in WWI and never changed, which makes the .303 British brass last a ridiculously short time in service.

My rifles are takedown arms, and it is not unusual for me to add a second barrel in the .22 or .25 Epps round. I preserve the rear aperture sight for use in the event that a scope gets broken. Glass is fragile under field conditions. Even good scopes can get broken in working rough country.

I am moving into building the Mauser 98 action as a basis for these arms, and will eventually field a gun with barrels for .257 Roberts, 7x57 and 8x57, and support equipment for the arm as well. After using a Scout rifle and scope, it is difficult for me to justify giving up the ability to load with a stripper clip just to fit optics to the rifle. My scout mounts are not a one-pin wonder, though, because I know what the forces on the scope are, and what kind of torque it imparts to the base when the rifle is fired.

A rifle is a tool, designed to handle a given task. As with you, I find that careful study of the goal is essential to crafting an acceptable tool. And making the first one takes a considerable amount of time. The second, and subsequent arms always build faster....

24 Posts
I agree with you. You are absolutely right about how badly a poorly made scope can ruin a good weapon. Most of your article is very well thought out and excellent advice. I don't agree with you about low power scopes or attaching "scout scopes" to milsurp weapons. I can understand why you don't like them, especially if your left eye has poor vision and your right eye has excellent vision. You use both eyes on a scout simultaneously. The right eye gets to see details through the scope that the left eye can't see and the left eye gets to acquire the target and has the advantage of a wider field of view. I certainly don't like to see old milsurp weapons bubba-ized. A Picatinney rail on a Mosin Nagant is a real eyesore. But even bubba can have a good reason for doing things. The original PU or PE scope issued with the Mosin sniper rifle was a pretty awful piece of work. By today's standards, it had poor quality lenses, a complicated contraption for a mount, and was 3.5 x 21mm with very small eye relief. Snipers back then would have given anything to have the cheapest scope Walmart sells today. Milsurps offer a dichotomy. If you want an authentic collector's piece, you have to sacrifice performance. If you want to shoot teeny tiny groups, you have to bolt on a newfangled scope and alter the weapon so that it can compete in today's world. There's a good reason that they don't make them like that anymore. Such is life. Keep up the good work, rant on!

Silver Bullet member
36,347 Posts
As your eyes get older they get less flexible. I now have the choice of seeing the rear sight of a rifle, the front sight or the target, not all 3. It's easier for me with a handgun but my sight picture is still not good for much range. On rifles aperture sights worked for a while, but no longer.

This is a natural condition of aging and there's no cure yet. Neither Lasik or corrective lenses can restore the flexibility, only correct for one distance range. You can use bifocals for normal day to day activity but this does nothing for sighting a rifle.

A scope is the only solution so don't waste your money or risk your eyesight on unproven theories.

And if you scope a rifle do not skimp on it. You will need a low scope bolt, mounts and safety, and the mods are just not economical on a milsurp. For Mausers, for eample, the bolt forging needs an expert, like The Boltman, and you have to cut into the receiver for relief for the handle. If you MUST shoot your milsurp and can't see the target, a scout scope with intermediate eye relief is a barely acceptable option as it keeps the cost down and the rifle butchery to a minimum. Otherwise, and better yet, buy a sporter with scope mount provisions.

When buying a scope check the minimum and maximum magnification view. For cheap chinese scopes you can pretty much guarantee the view at max will be pretty bad, but may be OK at lower powers. Quality versus price is on a curve. You get a good increase in quality, both optical and durability, with increasing price at first, then it slacks off and the improvement rate falls off drastically after the $300 point is reached for conventional scopes in, say 3-9x40 ($200 to $250 if you are a very careful shopper). IMHO anything much more expensive is just for snob appeal, paying for the brand name, not the scope. And anything over 40mm is usually useless.

Illuminated crosshairs may work OK for very low visibility, and the only range correcting reticule I like is Nikon's, since it doesn't get in the way of the sight picture like all those orizontal lines. make sure the eye relief is right for your rifle mount and carefully follow mounting instructions. I boresight bolt actions by pulling the bolt and aiming at a fairly close target, visible through the bore, correcting for scope height and distance. If you can't do this go to a gunsmith or you'll waste a huge amount of ammo trying to get on target.

Copper Bullet member
4,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The reason many people want a scope is VISION ... or lack of good vision.
I get somewhat amused by people who can brag about their $1500 scope but when asked when the last time they went to the optometrist, they can't remember.

I was nearsighted since early childhood, w/ astigmatism. Not mild by any means, I spent years steering myself to the bathroom without glasses on...
Coke bottle glasses, even the thinnest lightweight lenses.
Contacts, often limited to type and brand because others didn't come that high.

I was blessed to go BLIND! Literally and legally blind ...
Cataracts, both eyes and they almost completely robbed me of correctable vision within the span of a year.
There was no choice other than implants, other than not being able to drive anymore or see other than fuzzy shapes.

Fortunately, there has been considerable advancement in variable focus implants in just the last few years.
While the price tag may be high, insurance covers the bulk of it.
The procedure is relatively quick and easy, about the same inconvenience and pain threshold as Lasik.
In just a couple hours, you walk out of the office with perfect, or near perfect vision without glasses or contacts.

No, it isn't perfect!
While I had one of the best and most well known doctors, he was a bit off in calculations. Said his machines couldn't read perfectly due to the thickness of the cataracts.
Right eye came out -1 nearsighted.
Left eye came out -2, but he vowed to correct that with Lasik.
Well, he kind of overshot the mark on that and ended up +1 farsighted.

Can I complain?
Not really ... still far better vision than I had all my life with glasses and contacts. Bright and vivid colors I had not seen for years.
I can read without glasses and although I still prefer reading glasses for extended close up work, I can get by without them.
Distance? Yes I most certainly see a golf ball at 250yds, being a little far sighted in the left eye.
The slightly under right eye gives me perfect focus on iron sights.
Combined, it works out well or I have adapted well.
In any case, way far better than what I lived with for fifty years!

Don't bitch and carp about your vision problem!
See a qualified expert practitioner and discuss your options.
Don't balk at the price tag.
Whatever the price, the quality of life aspect is well worth the return and you won't regret the decision.
Don't wait until you are forced into it and don't prolong your suffering!

They have even better implants now than when I had mine done a couple years ago!
Screw that scope! Sink your money into some good bionic eyes for a much better return on your investment!

2 Posts

Great article, thank you for the straight forward facts. I personally would like to put a scope mount on my MN 91/30, but I want to do it right. The purpose is simple - because I think the 7.62x54r cartridge is about as good a long distance cartridge out there, and way cheaper than most. I know there is probably talk about dressing up a pig, but if done right, I think it could be a real tackdriver, out to 400-500 yards.

70 Posts
standard scope/bore angle?

are scope supposed to be mounted parallel to the bore or is there some standard (downward) angle that off-the-shelf bases provide?

I ask because I need to fabricate bases (or one piece base) for my Steyr M95. Since the M95 is a top loader there is not much call for an over the bore scope so I haven't found anyone having done this before. However, mine will be bottom loader just so I can have an over the bore scope.

The drop from the front of the receiver to the rear appears to be approximately 3mm or 1/8". If I can find the right Redfield JR one piece base that closely matches length and drop I'd like to be able to use that with a little shaving or shimming if needed.

OR, if I can determine the angle needed, if any, milling some bases and attaching a Picatinny rail shouldn't be too hard.

edit follows:

OH heck, I'll just do the math:

assuming zero bullet drop after say 50yds, if the line of sight intersects the bullet trajectory at that point, and the scope center line of sight is 1" above the bore, angle a where the trajectory intersects the line of sight is found by tan a = h/d = 1/1800 (50yds = 1800") and by interpolation from the trig tables that is about 1/15 of one degree, so that is the downward angle that would be needed if no scope adjustments were possible.

Now there is some drop, even at 50yds, so the angle should actually be a tad bit more, but it's in the noise now.

So a parallel mount should be fine, there is plenty of adjustment in even one click of a standard scope to do that adjustment without having to cant the scope downward with relationship to the bore.

Silver Bullet member
36,347 Posts
Presbyopia is not fixable as far as shooting is concerned since most fixes dont get back the variable focus ability needed. Variable focus lens implants may work for some, and if I was legally blind I would try it too, but, just as in the early days of radial keratectomy, a large percentage of patients have problems. And if the presbyopia is from a combination of lens stiffness and muscle weakness even that cant work.

I am extremely nearsighted, although my vision is correctible to 20/20 or better. Thanks to age I now use bifocals plus a pair of intermediate vision lenses for computer work. And everything I shoot is scoped, except self defence pistols where I try to develop instinctive shooting, not aimed.
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